Saturday, August 6, 2011

Should Social Security be considered an Entitlement?

Hi Everyone,
I don’t know about you, but for months I’ve been listening to the politicians talking about Social Security being an entitlement program. Its made me furious. I started paying into Social Security at sixteen and have paid into it ever since.  Of course, I’m entitled to Social Security benefits, but the politicians make the word entitlement sound like a dirty word.  They try to make everyone believe the people who draw entitlements are free loaders and not responsible hard working folks.

It’s no wonder seniors are upset by their elected officials.  Below is a definition of entitlement.

Definition of entitlement by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:  1a: the state or condition of being entitled: Right  b: a right to benefits specified by law or contract  2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program.

Okay, so Social Security is an entitlement, so why is the word being smeared and used in such condescension? Below is a little history about how Social Security was started.

The Social Security Act was signed by FDR on 8/14/35. Taxes were collected for the first time in January 1937 and the first one-time, lump-sum payments were made that same month. Regular ongoing monthly benefits started in January 1940.

Medicare was passed into law on July 30, 1965 but beneficiaries were first able to sign-up for the program on July 1, 1966.

Under the 1935 law, what we now think of as Social Security only paid retirement benefits to the primary worker. A 1939 change in the law added survivors’ benefits and benefits for the retiree's spouse and children. In 1956 disability benefits were added.

Keep in mind, however, that the Social Security Act itself was much broader than just the program which today we commonly describe as "Social Security." The original 1935 law contained the first national unemployment compensation program, aid to the states for various health and welfare programs, and the Aid to Dependent Children program. (Full text of the 1935 law.)

Social security earns interest.  By law, the assets of the Social Security program must be invested in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest. The Trust Funds hold a mix of short-term and long-term government bonds. The Trust Funds can hold both regular Treasury securities and "special obligation" securities issued only to federal trust funds. In practice, most of the securities in the Social Security Trust Funds are of the "special obligation" type. (See additional explanation from SSA's Office of the Actuary.)

The Trust Funds earn interest which is set at the average market yield on long-term Treasury securities. Interest earnings on the invested assets of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds were $55.5 billion in calendar year 1999. This represented an effective annual interest rate of 6.9 percent.

The Trust Funds have earned interest in every year since the program began. More detailed information on the Trust Fund investments can be found in the Annual Report of the Social Security Trustees and on the Actuary's web pages concerning the Investment Transactions and Investment Holdings of the Trust Funds.

Much more information can be found at:

Yes, Social Security is an entitlement program.  It covers a huge amount of programs under its umbrella.  Should there be some cuts?  I’m not going to answer that question because I don’t know.  No one can afford cuts, but something has to be done.  I do believe our government should stop using Social Security for every program they can come up with.  In my opinion, social security and Medicare should not include welfare and some other entitlements under its umbrella. 

I’m not against helping people, but I just think welfare should be under some other program.  What do you think about our social security?  Frankly, I don’t think social security is the problem.

Have a great week, and I’ll see you all next week. 



Edie Ramer said...

Sandy, I agree with everything you say. And talk about entitlements... What about the entitlements Congress is giving itself? If they want to cut entitlements, I know where I want them to start.

Sandy said...

Edie, I would like to see Congress take cuts for their entitlements, too. I wonder how they would like it?

Terra said...

I agree with you. It is sad. To say I paid and I am entitled to it when I reach 67 1/2.


Isis Rushdan said...

I agree that the program needs to be restructured and cuts probably need to be made. Unfortunately just like me, Congress doesn't seem to know how to restructure it or where to properly cut. I've paid into the system since I was sixteen as well, but I can't help wonder if social security will even still be around by the time I'm in my sixties.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Terra. It is sad. Social Security has been dipped into many times over the years, and we wouldn't have a problem if it weren't for that.

Sandy said...

Isis, I understand how you feel. I do think Social Security will be around, or the government will have to pay back the money you paid in to it. Smile. I wonder how that will work? lol

Another thing, we can't expect people to take care of their own retirement. Many live from pay check to pay check. Some wouldn't know how to plan for retirement.

I don't how to fix it either, Isis, but if the Congress starts working together they'll figure it out. If they don't work together Congress can expect to be voted out again.

Jill James said...

Sandy, I believe the people who paid into SS are entitled to get their money, but I think that cuts could be made with redundant red tape and departments that oversee departments and stuff like that. Like the highway workers. You drive by and one guy is working and the rest are watching him work.

Sandy said...

Jill, I agree there's a lot of waste and redundancy in many departments in our government.

Thanks for your comment.

Carol Kilgore said...

Like everyone else here, I don't know the answer either.

Thank you for stopping by Under the Tiki Hut today and commenting.

Anonymous said...

It's good that we're all thinking about the situation and searching for answers. Thanks for sharing.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I just hope we can come up with some answers.

Anonymous said...

Yes, SS is an entitlement and should remain so. A % amount is taken from our wkly pay & goes into the Fed SS account to be held, without interest, until we choose to claim it at the allowable age(s). Pres Clinton, tho, had chosen to slap a tax on this meager retirement money at tax time making it more difficult for those who rely solely on SS, and there are many. SS money accounts have so tempted the US Govt. as these monies have sat and awaited individuals claims. The govt has now OVER-borrowed & cannot pay back its loan from SS. I thought it was a 'savings account' for retirement put in trustworthy govt hands. Does anyone have any action answers for this misappropriation of retirement funds?

Pat Dale said...

In my estimation, Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a program designed to give individuals some compensation after they retire. Entitlements have become so blurred, it is not possible to separate them from legitimate programs we contribute to.
There was a cynical element to the creation of the social security system. At the time, men lived to just a year or so beyond the point they would be eligible to collect benefits. the whole point of these programs was to ensnare the people in the concept that government can best care for us. That is a well-proven lie!
Yet, most of us seniors have been seduced by slick words, all the while the politicians who have seduced us, keep spending the money we've paid in. Plus the fact that we live so much longer now, and benefits have been extended to people who would never have qualified originally. It is a system that is broke! We have to understand that, and be willing to allow our leaders to find a way out of this giant Ponzi scheme.
Are we entitled to our social security checks? YES! Is it an entitlement program? NO!
This has all become such a can of worms, we have to let our leaders make tough choices, even if they can't keep the current program intact. (And they can't; it's an actuarial impossiblity, and if a politician tells you we can continue with this current system, he's lying through his teeth.
Originally, we had many workers paying into a system that paid out far less than it took in. Slowly, we added tangential beneficiaries and the number of workers paying in for everyone who took withdrawals lessened. At our present rate, we'll not have enough young turks paying in to meet current obligations, and that's the cold hard facts.
So let's all get off the political BS about one party trying to throw our old folks off a cliff, and realize that the one party is only trying to avoid a cataclysmic event where we all go over that cliff.

Collette Thomas said...

I don't know about anyone else but us old folks (just got on Medicare myself) may be what is helping the economy. I'm on a pension and social security...and because I have that income I do contribute to keeping the economy going. Before getting on Medicare for 8 years since the death of my spouse I paid for my health benefits and put well over $30,000 into a health care system because of the premiums I had to pay to keep that healthcare. Now I'm on Medicare but I'm still paying every month over $300 dollars plus the co-pays. Not sure why some politicians think this is all a free ride because since I can remember I've paid property taxes, car taxes, and every other tax you can think of plus the premiums for health insurance, home owners insurance and car insurance. (CT is the worse place to own a car because of that aspect.) I should be living out my so-called golden years in relative comfort but because of the way this country has been run throughout the years my financial situation has gone flatlined...and it's going nowhere.

Yet this country is able to send billions of dollars over for foreign aid to those who could give a *t*t about Americans. Maybe I should move to a foreign country to get some of that aid because I'm sure not getting it here. So I continue to write my stories upload them to Amazon and whatever other publisher will acquire them and eek out a living throughout the rest of my golden years.

In advice to those politicians is keep away from us senior citizens because in fact we may be carrying the country as far as its economy. We go down...the whole country might just go down with us.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems I see in the system is that there is rampant abuse of the disability portion of SS. When I worked 40+ hours a week in a bank, I saw plenty of able-bodied people walking in to cash their disability checks each month. They were perfectly able to go hunting and fishing, but couldn't hold a job? Please! One young woman got a check because she had panic attacks (something I know about first hand since I've experienced them myself. But I would never dream of considering myself disabled because of them!) The kicker was that her check was more than I was making at the bank!

No one would suggest cutting back payments to those who are genuinely disabled, but there are plenty of people who are frankly defrauding the system. That needs to stop.

Sandy said...

You're welcome, Carol. I'm glad you could stop by here.

Sandy said...

Well, we have some several Anonymous people here, but this is for the second one.

If anyone is living on Social Security alone, it would be very unusual for them to be taxed because they aren't making enough to tax.

I'm sorry to say, I have no answers at all. It doesn't seem to matter if you change parties, our government officials remain the same.

Sandy said...

Thanks for your commentary, Dale. Unfortunately, the definition of entitlement makes social security an entitlement for the very reason we pay into it. Smile.

Sandy said...

Collete, thank you for your comments.

You're right, we are taxed to death in this country. I look for them to come up with something else at any time. Smile! I may smile on the outside, but it makes me cry inside.

Sandy said...

Third Anonymous: I agree with you a 100%. There are too many people out there who are willing to take advantage of our social security system.